Note: So this was just meant as a little writing exercise at 4am, picking the first song my iTunes brought up on shuffle and running with it. I'm not sure it's really worth sharing, but it's 5am so what the hell. So here's a little drabble set during Sherlock's time away tracking down Moriarty's network, for whatever that's worth. It might help to put on a Chopin piece while you read.
And yes, in my mind this takes place in the world of "What He Likes" and "The Sign of the Four", though it's not at all necessary to have read those. And if you have, be forewarned that this drabble isn't the carefully planned standard for me, but my brain just spilling over in the wee hours.
Oh, and this is definitely inspired by my own experiences of Krakow, which I rate as one of my favorite cities in Europe.
It was like a ship cast adrift in the sea, this little hotel room in Krakow.
Which was an absurd, annoyingly poetic notion and Sherlock really had no idea why he'd had it. Far from his normal line of thinking. But he thought perhaps he should blame Chopin. That sentimental, melancholy man. Yes, music had to be the culprit. That was logical, given Sherlock's own musical inclinations and gifts. This city was practically splitting its seams with Chopin, with the desire to remind every tourist that this was the great pianist's land. Recitals in upper rooms. Casts of his hands in the museum. His heart and soul and notes seeping even into hotel rooms where they had no right to be.
It was impossible to escape. A recital going on in the same row of old city centre building as the hotel. The sound drifted up to Sherlock through the walls and floors, the mournful, delicate melodies ebbing and flowing. He closed his eyes involuntarily.
Slowly, very gradually, everything else began slipping away. His self-declared mission. His targets. Even the little kit, syringe and vile and cotton wool with a spoon, tucked away behind a false-walled section of his little travel bag. That extra boost he often needed to keep his mind sharp. Even that was washed away by the melody drifting up, rising like gentle waves.
Ah, how a violin would compliment this nocturne, he thought. Slow notes, the bow drawn gently across the strings. A countermelody, sadder than the light, trilling notes of the piano. Echo and response. Sherlock could imagine his fingers sliding across the neck, could feel the pressure of fingertips on strings, the quick tremor of vibrato from his wrist. He could hear the music he'd add to the music that assaulted him so pleasantly and entirely without invite.
If he let himself become awash in Chopin, then yes, perhaps there was some poetry to that. Perhaps Sherlock could imagine himself, cast adrift on the swells of the sea. Bobbing unharmed in the waves. Not tossed about as in a storm. Not looking around for circling sharks. Floating. Free. No shipwreck at all, and Chopin's nocturne moving him on the waves as the sun set on the Channel.
It was the applause that killed it. A sharp burst of inelegant hands slapping together without any meter or purpose. That signalled the end in every possible way. Sherlock opened his eyes.
And still he stood by the window, looking at nothing, listening for anything.
He didn't know how much later it was when he looked, really looked down at the cityscape outside his window. Straggling tourists and young people ambled along the road. A streetcar chugged dutifully along its cable line route. Alleyways shot off from the main road.
Sherlock saw the city for what it was: exits, escape routes, hiding places, transport schedules, witnesses, police to avoid, nearest hospital location, unscrupulous hostels for hideouts... A city like all the other cities Sherlock had passed through in the last nine months. And his place in it was crystal clear.
He was no raft adrift on a pleasant, gentle current. He was the survivor of a shipwreck on an already dangerously inhabited island from which there was no escape save total and utter destruction of the extremely capable hostile residents. On their ground. In their world. On his own. David toppling Goliath.
How had he ever thought this possible?
Sherlock moved away from the window, let himself sink onto his bed. But not to sleep: to study the dossier he'd made for his target. The photos, notes, leaked confidential government documents and analyses, maps and hotel records. Tricks of the trade. The sober, hard facts of Sherlock's lot. That should be comforting, in a way. It was familiar. Straightforward.
No high, light notes. No trills. And certainly not a damn yearning, mournful response on the violin. Dear God, had he actually allowed himself to get swept up in such a sentiment? He must remember to be more careful around music. This was no longer Chopin's city. Not the composer's to memorise, internalise, map out in his head so that when (not if) he found his target, the whole thing could be carried off without risk. Sherlock had got good at this. But he had yet to get used to it.
He stayed awake all night, listening in vain for Chopin. The city was silent.
In the morning, Sherlock stalked his man from a tram stop, dragged him to a secluded park, and slit his throat with a switchblade.